Reading the MLS Western Conference Tea Leaves: Who Finishes Where?

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MLS Western Conference
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Jonathan dos Santos #8 of Los Angeles Galaxy battles Raul Ruidiaz #9 of Seattle Sounders during the Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against Seattle Sounders at the StubHub Center on September 23, 2018 in Carson, California. Los Angeles Galaxy won the match 3-0(Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images)

Editorial (October 10, 2018)- The Western Conference, as usual, is in the midst of a tight race heading into the final few matchups of the season. With only three teams clinched, and valid question marks for five teams still in the hunt, we attempt to read the tea leaves and see how it will shake out.

Reading the MLS Western Conference Tea Leaves: How Does It Shake Out?

Three teams in the MLS Western Conference have already clinched postseason spots: FC Dallas, Sporting KC, and LAFC. There are still five teams in the hunt for the playoffs as well. With two or three games remaining for all teams still alive, the importance on their final set of fixtures continues to grow. We’ll split this into competitive portions since the numbers even out.

Fighting to Stay Alive

Here is how the standings currently look for those close to the red line:

Team Points Games Played Possible Points Wins GD
Real Salt Lake 46 32 52 13 -3
Galaxy 45 32 51 12 1
Whitecaps 43 32 49 12 -11

 

The Whitecaps have to have everything above them go according to plan, including most teams ahead of them losing. The Galaxy can only max out at 51, which is where Portland currently sit. So basically, the teams below the red line should be hoping more for Portland to win out as it puts them closer to leapfrogging Real Salt Lake.

Here are the remaining schedules:

  • RSL: vs NER, at POR
  • LAG: at MIN, vs HOU
  • VAN: vs. SKC, at LAFC, vs. POR

As much as I like the Whitecaps, with all that needs to happen ahead of them, and the remaining games they have, I just don’t see them landing a top six spot. The Galaxy, however, might have a good shot. They take on two teams that have been pretty bad, while RSL has to travel to Portland, and have their season wrapped up on the second to last day, giving the Galaxy a full week of knowing how to take care of business. Again, Seattle and Portland shouldn’t be too worried unless they endure a massive collapse.

Who Gets a Home Playoff Game?

The top four race is actually the more interesting one in my opinion. FC Dallas are starting to pull away in first place, but the race for the bye spot and home field position is starting to heat up. Here is how the top standings currently look:

Team Points Games Played Possible Points Wins GD
FC Dallas 57 31 66 16 13
Sporting KC 53 31 62 15 18
LAFC 53 31 62 15 15
Sounders 50 31 59 15 12
Timbers 51 32 57 14 4

 

The Sounders may have less points than the Timbers, but you’ll see why I have them there in a second. Here are the remaining schedules:

  • FC Dallas: at DCU, vs SKC, at COL
  • Sporting KC: at VAN, at FCD, vs LAFC
  • LAFC: vs HOU, vs VAN, at SKC
  • Sounders: at ORL, at HOU, vs SJ
  • Timbers: vs RSL, at VAN

Does it make sense why I have them there? Seattle’s remaining schedule is by far the easiest, and the Timbers have two tough games remaining on their schedule. Throw in the game in hand, I’d put the Sounders ahead of them even though the standings technically have it flipped.

How does it all shake out?

It’s hard to see FC Dallas finishing outside the top two spots, so I’ll just stick them in first for now, but that could always change. So what happens through the end? It will come down to the final day between LAFC and SKC. The winner of that likely takes that second seed and avoids the knockout round. Neither of these teams are losing out on a home playoff game, so they’ll likely be locked into the top four. As for the rest? Here is how I see it shaking out:

  1. FC Dallas
  2. Sporting KC
  3. Seattle Sounders
  4. LAFC
  5. Portland Timbers
  6. Los Angeles Galaxy

Agree? Disagree? See something different? Let us know in the comments!

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